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Santa Monica, Calif.

Main Street is more than a name.

In fact, there are 10,000-plus streets named Main in the United States alone, and each one has its own personality and unique history. Since spring 2009, a collaborative documentary media project, Mapping Main Street (MMS), has been uncovering these stories through videos and photos, with the ultimate goal of eventually visiting and detailing every single Main Street in the country. (A big challenge, to say the least.) Later this year, MMS will release a book of project photos, as well as a vinyl box set featuring songs about Main Streets by artists like the Hive Dwellers and Chain and the Gang. Until then, as a nod to their remarkable efforts, here are some of American Way’s favorite Main Streets around America:

Santa Monica, Calif. — Third Street Promenade might receive the bulk of attention, but this beach town’s Main Street is a retail and nightlife hot spot and a front-runner for green initiatives, boasting businesses like the all-vegan eco-café Euphoria Loves Rawvolution and a weekly Sunday farmers market known for its fresh produce and celebrity visitors.

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Jerome, Ariz.
Jerome, Ariz. — This “Wickedest Town in the West” is a former mining center with a historic Main Street of late 19th-century buildings that once housed 52 saloons. Now tourists come to browse antiques, handmade pottery and an amazing selection of kaleidoscopes. (Interesting note: Town store Nellie Bly is the world’s largest kaleidoscope dealer.)

Philadelphia — Revitalized in the 1990s, the formerly empty storefronts along Philly’s Main Street in the Manayunk neighborhood now attract collegiates and young professionals drawn to the area’s industrial charm and chic restaurants and bars. The neighborhood also has one of the highest concentrations of furniture and home-decor stores in the Northeast.

Get Involved Visit www.mappingmainstreet.org to learn how you can upload your own Main Street photos, video, audio and written words. The site also features songs as well as details, pics and stories relating to Main Streets from Buckeye, Ariz., to Chattanooga, Tenn.